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The urgency of addressing the permanent status issues —
Borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water

Qawra, Malta
12 and 13 February 2010

Concluding Remarks of the Organizers

1. The International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace was organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People of the United Nations in Qawra, Malta, on 12 and 13 February 2010.

2. The objective of the Meeting was to provide a forum for the exchange of views on the current state of the peace efforts and encourage a constructive dialogue among the stakeholders on how to create a political climate conducive to the resumption of the peace negotiations on permanent status issues: border, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and water. The Meeting, among other things, discussed the terms of reference for all permanent status issues, including in the context of peace initiatives. It also looked into modalities for bridging gaps and building trust between the parties; international and regional approaches to promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the role of parliamentarians and inter-parliamentary organizations in supporting Israeli- Palestinian peace and stability in the region.

3. The Organizers were encouraged by the consensual view among participants that achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, was imperative for the attainment of peace and stability in the Middle East. The participants had expressed serious concern about the prolonged stagnation and impasse of the peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians. They had reiterated their full support for the revival of the Middle East peace process, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Quartet’s Road Map, the Arab Peace Initiative and the existing agreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides. The Organizers appreciated that the participants had stated their firm commitment to ending Israeli occupation which started on 4 June 1967 in order to achieve a permanent two-State solution in which Israel and Palestine would live side by side in peace and security within mutually recognized borders. Participants had urged the parties to resume, without delay, serious negotiations that would lead, within an agreed timeframe, to the resolution of the permanent status issues: borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and water.

4. The Organizers understood that participants had called upon the parties to build on the progress made to date in the implementation of their Road Map obligations. They had noted the Israeli redeployment in 2005 from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank and the dismantlement of the settlements therein as a step in that direction. In this connection, many participants reiterated the global consensus in calling on Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately stop all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all outposts as required by the Road Map. They had recognized the efforts undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, with international support, to rebuild, reform and strengthen its institutions, and welcomed, in particular, the efforts and progress made in the security sector. They had encouraged the parties to strengthen measures aimed at promoting trust and confidence. In that regard, participants had emphasized the importance of the safety, protection and well-being of all civilians in the whole Middle East region, and condemned all acts of violence, military incursions and terror against civilians perpetrated by any side.

5. The Organizers would like to emphasize that developments on the ground play a crucial part in creating a climate conducive to a resumption of the political dialogue and successful negotiations. They reiterate that Israeli settlements and the separation wall has been built on occupied Palestinian land, and that the demolition of houses and evictions of Palestinian residents was illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-State solution impossible. They expressed their hope that the tenmonth freeze of settlement expansion declared by the Israeli Government would be comprehensive, extended to East Jerusalem and retained indefinitely. They expressed alarm at the rising number of violent acts and brutality committed against Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, the widespread destruction of public and private Palestinian property and infrastructure, and the internal displacement of civilians. The Organizers support the firm stance by the international community not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to occupied Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

6. The Organizers observed that participants had expressed deep concern about the situation in East Jerusalem. Government-sanctioned settlement construction, transfer of settlers, house demolitions, evictions of Palestinian residents and other action aimed at altering the status and character of occupied East Jerusalem constituted violations of international law and had to be rescinded. The Organizers stress that a negotiated solution of the question of Jerusalem as the future capital of two States that takes account of the political and religious concerns of all sides is a prerequisite for lasting peace. It should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the holy places by the Palestinian people and peoples of all religions and nationalities. The Organizers reaffirm the legitimate interest of the international community in the question of the City of Jerusalem and the protection of its unique spiritual, religious and cultural dimensions.

7. Grave concern was expressed by most participants over the crisis in the Gaza Strip as a result of the prolonged Israeli closures and movement restrictions that amounted to a blockade. These policies represented a severe form of collective punishment of the entire population of the Gaza Strip. The hardship endured by the Palestinian people in Gaza was further exacerbated by the Israeli military operation “Cast Lead”, which caused extensive loss of life and injury, particularly among Palestinian civilians, widespread damage and destruction to Palestinian homes, infrastructure, and public institutions, and the internal displacement of civilians. The Organizers urge Israel to open all crossing terminals for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, including reconstruction materials and to persons in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).

8. Participants had drawn attention to the plight of Palestine refugees, whose status and suffering had been passed down from generation to generation over the past six decades. The inherent vulnerability of the refugees and the dire conditions of their exile called for a just and lasting solution anchored in the principles of international law and the lessons drawn from successful examples of conflict resolution in other parts of the world. The Organizers support the view that justice for Palestine refugees and the Palestinian people as a whole also encompassed fair recompense and recourse for the wrongs inflicted upon them under occupation. They welcomed that the participants had acknowledged the crucial role the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was playing in providing basic services to the Palestine refugees. They commended the selfless efforts of the many staff of the Agency throughout the 60 years of its existence and encouraged them to continue their humanitarian work and to contribute to the international discourse on a just solution of the question of Palestine refugees on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III).

9. The Organizers welcomed the emphasis on the need for the parties to arrive at a just solution to the question of water. They believe that any permanent status agreement should honour international law with respect to the sharing and allocation of ground and surface water resources in the Israeli and Palestinian regions, namely equitable and reasonable allocation on a per capita basis, avoidance of significant harm, and respect for the obligation of prior notification before undertaking major projects that may affect the neighbour’s water allocation. The Organizers reaffirm that, with the assistance of the international community, the parties should apply modern technologies to augment water supplies and utilize all supplies in more efficient and economic ways and be guided by international law.

10. The Organizers support the participants emphasis on the importance of the active involvement of the international community, in particular the United Nations and its Security Council, the Quartet, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, for the resumption and successful conduct of the peace process. They call upon the international donor community to continue to support generously the Palestinian efforts towards rehabilitation, reconstruction, economic development and State-building.

11. The Organizers also welcomed that the participants of the Meeting, hosted by Malta, a European Union Member State, had appreciated the absolutely critical role played by the European Union and individual European States in achieving a durable peace in the Middle East. In this connection, it was encouraging to note that the participants welcomed the declaration of the Council of the European Union of 8 December 2009. On that basis, the Organizers encourage the policy-making organs of the European Union to play a more active role in various aspects of the political process, in addition to the European Commission’s substantial economic assistance.

12. The Organizers are of the view that national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations have a special role to play in advancing the Israeli-Palestinian political process. Such organizations as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union and the Arab Inter- Parliamentary Union have worked towards upholding international law and promoting an effective political dialogue aimed at resolving all permanent status issues. The Organizers encourage these inter-parliamentary organizations to develop closer cooperation among themselves, with Israeli and Palestinian lawmakers, and with the United Nations and its Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, with a view to supporting a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, including a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine. In this context, the Organizers noted the valid recommendations and suggestions made during the Meeting to strengthen the role of parliamentarians at the national, regional, and international levels in contributing towards the resolution of the question of Palestine

13. The Organizers of the International Meeting, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People of the United Nations were gratified by the newly-developed partnership between themselves and are committed to continue working together, and individually, towards bringing about a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

14. The Organizers commend Malta for its proactive and constructive role in the search for a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Middle East conflict and encouraged its continuation. They express gratitude to the Government and Parliament of Malta for hosting the Meeting and the generous hospitality extended to them.

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